Friday, May 27, 2011

Voter ID: Fraud Crackdown or Disenfranchising

A bill requiring voters to produce photo identification at the polls could see a state House vote soon.
The voter ID bill cleared a House committee earlier this month, after more than two hours of contentious debate.
Right now, voters only have to show photo ID when they’re casting ballots at a precinct for the first time.

Republican supporters, including sponsor Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County, say the requirement would cut down on voter fraud. Democrat Florindo Fabrizio said the GOP has another motivation. “This ID legislation, this proposed legislation, is merely, absolutely, unequivocally, a means to suppress the voter turnout,” he argued. Fabrizio used to serve as Erie County’s clerk of elections, and said, “We can cite probably on my hands, the number of cases that were actually reported, actually prosecuted, and actually reached conclusion to some kind of conviction.”

Opponents also claim the bill would create a hardship for people without drivers’ licenses, or older residents with expired identification. “A percentage of US citizens who are eligible to vote do not have government-issued ID,” said Andy Hoover of Pennsylvania’s ACLU. “In this case, with this bill, it must have a photo and the ID must be unexpired. So if you’re a senior, for example, who is no longer driving, who is no longer traveling, your passport and your driver’s license may be expired.”

During the State Government Committee debate on the measure, Metcalfe called Pennsylvania’s current law “irresponsible.” His website says the measure would “protect against corrupt politicians, groups and individuals who might attempt to undermine our elections.”

The legislation would provide a free ID to anyone who needs it.